The New York International Motorcycle Show, which begins today and continues through Sunday, January 23, at the Javits Center in Manhattan, exhibits the latest vehicle models and accessories but also marks a good time for motorcycle enthusiasts to review their insurance coverage, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
"Motorcycle insurance is widely available, with many of the nation's top auto insurers offering the product as either a stand-alone policy or as an endorsement to a personal automobile policy," said Michael Barry, vice president, Media Relations at the I.I.I.
There were 7.7 million motorcycles on U.S. roads as of 2008, according to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, the most recent data available.
If you are in the market for motorcycle insurance, most states require you to carry a minimum amount of liability coverage. Liability insurance covers bodily injury and property damage that you may cause to other people involved in an accident. It does not cover you or your motorcycle.
An additional option within your liability insurance is first-party medical coverage, in the event you want to be reimbursed for bodily injury expenses you incurred while on your motorcycle. You may also be able to purchase coverage for medical bills received from an injured party, ranging from $2,000 to $25,000. And check whether your liability coverage includes Guest Passenger Liability, which provides financial protection in the event that your passenger is injured while on your motorcycle.
Other, often optional, coverages available to motorcycle owners are: collision (covering damage to your motorcycle); comprehensive (covering damage caused by events other than a collision, such as fire, theft or vandalism); and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (covering damages to you and your property caused by another driver who either does not have insurance or whose insurance is inadequate). Always ask your insurance agent or company representative which insurance coverages are required in your state.
It is also worth asking about motorcycle accessories coverage for items such as add-ons, customizations, aftermarket parts and anything else you may have added to your bike since purchasing it.
Many factors can affect how much you will pay in motorcycle insurance premiums, including:
- Driver's age and driving record
- Where the driver lives
- Model, style (sports bike vs. cruiser) and age of the motorcycle
- Number of miles the motorcycle is driven each year
- Where the motorcycle is stored
There are also ways of saving money on motorcycle premiums, with discounts ranging anywhere from 10 percent to 20 percent, depending on the company and the state. Some common discounts include:
- Multi-bike discounts
- Motorcycle association discounts
- Discounts for experienced riders
- Installation of antitheft devices
- Discounts for graduates of training courses, such as the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) Rider Course
- In many northern states, seasonal motorcyclists can consider buying a "lay-up" policy, in which all coverage except comprehensive is suspended during winter months
"But, while getting the right coverage is essential, riding a motorcycle safely is even more important," Barry concluded.
Recent motorcycle safety trends have been positive, with the number of people dying in U.S. motorcycle crashes dropping 16 percent, from 5,312 fatalities in 2008 to 4,462 in 2009, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)